The Freehold Township Committee decided to put a hold on the re-zoning of after over a hundred residents showed up at the meeting on Feb. 28 to protest the proposed change.
Councilman Eugene Golub motioned for the ordinance to be tabled. “Since so many people came out, I would like some time to think about what has been discussed tonight,” said Golub.
According to the ordinance, the re-zoning would allow for Brock Farms to become a B-2 (Commercial) zone and a new PAC-2 (Planned Adult Community) zone.
The property, which is over one hundred acres, is currently zoned to allow for the development of one home per every two acres. This new PAC-2 zoning allows for the development of four homes per every acre. The additional commercial zoning would allow for the development of a strip mall to accompany the 55+ community.
Over 25 residents came to the microphone to not to pass the ordinance.
Michael Fogerty, a , was one of the concerned residents who spoke on these topics and summed up the main concerns of all the residents.
“On behalf of the residents attending tonight and dozens of others that could not make it we state that we are not opposed to development as long as such development is consistent with the hard work and planning that has gone on prior to this request,” said Fogerty.
The biggest concerns among residents who spoke were deviation from the master plan, increased traffic and safety as well as environmental and aesthetic effects.
With the concern of the Master Plan, Fogerty said, “The re-zoning of Brock Farm could start a ‘domino effect’ to re-zone this other land to further deviate from the Master Plan.” He also urged the committee to look into the status of a previously PAC-2 zoned property in Freehold Township that has yet to be developed.
With the concern of traffic and safety, Fogerty referenced Western Monmouth County Route 537 Corridor Study from 2004. “The data I just described depicts a major transportation corridor that is beyond the point of necessary improvements. Now 8 years later we have not seen any of these recommended improvements yet we are here tonight discussing the rezoning of land that would further create a travel hardship and more importantly a safety concern for Freehold residents and our surrounding townships,” said Fogerty.
Many 537 accident victims, parents and residents along the road also stood up to second this point and voice their extreme concerns with the safety issues that would arise with adding additional traffic to this area of the road.
As for an environmental concern, Fogerty said, “The primary boundary of this site includes the known extent of the wetland habitat containing Federally-listed threatened plants along with the surrounding lowland habitat and the upland-lowland boundary.”
As for aesthetics, many residents spoke out on how Freehold Township has changed in recent years and longed to hold onto one of the last farms in the area. Residents touched on points such as reduced property value, feeling deceived as homeowners who thought they’d be living in a residential neighborhood and changing the feel of the neighborhood.
Some committee members touched on some positive points of re-zoning this area to a PAC-2.
Mayor Anthony Ammiano described the need for this type of housing in the township for seniors. “They have to sell their houses and move to Howell because they can no longer afford to live in Freehold on a fixed income,” explained the Mayor. “This is an affordable housing project that would allow them to stay.”
Councilman Golub said that this would increase revenue without adding much more additional expenses to the Township. “The seniors pay the same taxes, but do not reap all the benefits,” he said. He added in comparison to single-family homes, there would not be an increase in students in the school system, the community would be gated so the township would not have to pay for snow clean-up, maintenance or recycling pick-up.
The meeting ended at 11:30 p.m. when Councilman Golub motioned to table the discussing.
The motion is tabled until April 24. There will be another public hearing where residents are invited again to come and voice their concerns.